Sat. Apr 20th, 2024

As a child, I remember seeing rows and rows of perfume bottles neatly stacked on my mother’s dresser. She must have had at least twenty brightly colored bottles in all different shapes and sizes. Now that I am older, I can say that I probably have a collection of twenty perfumes, if not more.

Over the years, I have received perfumes for every holiday that you can think of. However, my growing collection has made me wonder if perfume expires. Considering the price points of most fragrances, knowing whether or not to throw away a perfume you’ve had for a while can be a hard decision to make. So, does perfume really expire? If so, how can you tell? I tapped three of the country’s top perfumers for their expertise.

Meet the expert

  • Clement Gavarry is a senior perfumer at Firmenich. He has worked on creating many famous scents for brands such as Giorgio Armani, Calvin Klein, Tom Ford, and Chloé.
  • Jacques Huclier is a perfumer at Givaudan. He has created fragrances for brands like Gucci, Thierry Mugler, and Hugo Boss.
  • Gabriela Chelariu is a senior perfumer at Firmenich. She has created perfumes for brands such as Nest and Abercrombie & Fitch, as well as for celebrities such as Gwen Stefani and Jennifer Lopez.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about the lifespan of perfume and how to tell if your favorite scent has expired.

Does Perfume Expire?

Unfortunately, once a bottle of perfume has been opened, it will eventually expire. 

“Spraying a perfume allows air into the bottle, which oxidizes the fragrance over time,” said Gavarry. “You’ll notice a severely reduced signature of the fragrance itself. It will not smell sparkling.”

I know, this is sad news to hear, especially if you have a few open fragrances in your bathroom cabinet right now. However, the good news is, on average, an open fragrance can last about two years. As for an unopened bottle, Huclier said it can last several years depending on how it is stored. 

“I recently had the chance to evaluate a never-opened bottle of perfume from the ’80s, and it was, like, brand new,” Huclier told us. “There’s no cardinal rule; each fragrance has a different lifespan.”

According to Huclier, the shelf life of fragrances is extending longer than before, as many perfumers now use stabilizers and UV filters, making the molecules less sensitive to oxidation. That said, it’s definitely a good idea to finish one bottle before you start using another.

How to Identify Expired Perfume

You can tell if a perfume has expired when the smell is slightly sour, especially as the top notes oxidize. This can have a slight metallic scent. 

“Oxygen within the air can alter some of the molecules present in a fragrance over time,” explained Huclier. “Generally, top notes like citrus, fruits, aromatics, green notes, and patchouli are most sensitive to oxidation.”

The best way to check if a perfume has expired is to spray it on a piece of paper to see if you detect any off-note. This method also assures that you don’t have the scent on you all day, especially if it has expired.

“Another indication that perfume has expired is discoloration [of the juice],” suggested Huclier. 

Gavarry noted, “You can also check to see if the color or shade of the juice itself has changed. If it looks darker or has a yellow tint, it typically means the fragrance has oxidized.”

Finally, the trusted nose of a friend can also help you determine if it’s time to throw the perfume out. Ask for someone’s opinion.

How to Store Perfume

How long perfume lasts also depends on how it’s stored. Keep perfumes far from any heat source. Oxygen, light, and heat are the biggest enemies of perfume. 

“If the fragrance is kept away from sunlight and high temperatures, it will last longer,” Gavarry added. “If the fragrance is kept in warm temperatures, the juice will turn faster, and it will only have a shelf-life of three to six months.”

“To extend the life of a perfume, it’s best to store it in a cool, dark place, away from heat and daylight, as UV light can harm the fragrance and break down its formula,” advised Chelariu. “Keeping a fragrance in the refrigerator is actually the best climate and storage space.”

There are also some perfumes that tend to last longer than others. 

“In general, perfumes with spicy, wood, and vanilla notes have a tendency towards sustaining a longer shelf life than other perfumes in different olfactive categories,” Chelariu said. “The nature of the natural ingredients within these formulas are more potent and structurally stable.” 

Huclier explained that these rich base notes are less volatile and have a greater resistance to oxidation since they are less fragile.

Using Expired Perfume

If you unknowingly or knowingly apply perfume that has expired, not much will happen — other than smelling a little off, that is. 

“It’s not very common for a person to have an adverse reaction to an expired perfume,” said Chelariu. “There is a natural process of oxidation that happens during the life of every perfume, and this can generate compounds in the juice that are irritating for certain skin types.”


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By admin